One Christmastime, during my university days, I secured a job as a temporary night watchman. It was at a caravan (American: trailer) factory on Swinemoor Lane in Beverley.
The first night I turned up early for my shift so that Bob, the head security man, could show me the ropes. I entered the small reception building by the factory gates and was taken into the back room.
"Don't be scared!" laughed Bob. "He'll not hurt you!"
A massive hirsute Alsatian or German Shepherd was nuzzling my groin with his big snout. Bob said that his name was Shane, Every three hours through the night it would be my responsibility to lead Shane round the factory complex so that he could sniff out potential trouble such as intruders or electrical faults.
After showing me the key box and providing emergency phone numbers, Bob walked me round the factory where thirty odd caravans were in different stages of construction - from skeletal chassis to upholstered palaces on wheels.
Soon I was back in the reception building. The working day was finishing. Workers clocked out and before too long there was just me alone on that five acre factory site with Shane. It was already pitch dark
I made myself a mug of tea and switched on the radio. Shane seemed to be eyeing me as if I was a massive juicy bone but Bob had promised that he would not hurt me. At about nine o'clock it was time to do our first tour of the factory. I picked up Shane's lead and he was up off his bed under the counter like lightning with his big pink tongue lolling and his tail wagging like a huge furry metronome.
We circled the factory, checking doors and entered the administration building with its shiny boardroom. I even had a swivel on the chairman's leather seat. It was like a throne.
Over the next four weeks I became very attached to Shane. He was always excited to see me. Between factory tours, I did university work, listened to the radio and drank tea.
One bleak, wintry night someone pressed the buzzer on the locked side gate. Shane went wild, barking like The Hound of the Baskervilles. It was two night cops. They were after a rest and a chinwag in the warm reception building and perhaps a cup of tea too. Apparently, they had been expecting Steve, the regular nightwatchman to be on duty. I think Shane recognised them so he soon settled down. They never came back which was fine with me. Police officers always made me feel rather uncomfortable.
Another night as we were walking round the factory perimeter, Shane growled and then barked. He pulled me to one of the rear doors. I unlocked it and let Shane inside. Thirty seconds later he returned with a workman's flat cap clamped in his jaws. What an amazing sense of smell he had!
And one lazy Sunday afternoon as I was reading "As I Lay Dying" by William Faulkner, Shane's ears pricked up. He was up from his bed and barking like crazy. I led him to the perimeter fence and far away - perhaps half a mile - across the flat marshland that bordered the factory I could just make out two or three kids playing. That's what Shane had noticed. What amazing hearing he had!
That month long temporary job was the best one I ever had. I was paid handsomely and most of the time I was sitting in a warm room, reading or studying, drinking tea and listening to the radio with my new best friend - Shane. So you see that in spite of my antipathy towards dogs, I have known that special wordless bond that dog owners often feel.